A new SHACC exhibit and San Clemente Women’s Surf Film Festival look to shine light on female surfers’ contributions
History is seldom fair, and surfing is no exception. Over the past half-century, the sport, the industry, and the media have largely been dominated by men.
They sat as presidents of companies, organizers of contests and editors of magazines—making decisions about who gets the spotlight and who gets paid.
Of course, there are female exceptions, but in large part, women’s modern contributions to the sport, culture and lifestyle have flown “under the radar.”
A new exhibit at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center (SHACC) in San Clemente, aptly titled Under the Radar, looks to shine some much-deserved and long-overdue light on the women who paddled out and broke barriers.
For every recognizable name such as Rell Sunn, Joyce Hoffman, Jericho Poppler or Lisa Andersen, all of whom dared to put a crack in the glass ceiling, there have been countless other women right there behind them—they just didn’t get the credit that they deserved.
Gail Couper, Joey Hamasaki and Mary Lou Drummy are but a few of the women celebrated in the new exhibit at SHACC.
“We’re really excited to be able to share this history and bring it to light. It’s definitely long-overdue. It wasn’t easy to decide who to feature, since there are so many incredible unsung women that deserve their time in the sun,” says SHACC’s Barry Haun, who curated the exhibit.
“Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction and gives folks a deeper and more comprehensive appreciation for all the women that got us to where we are today,” Haun continued.
Running in conjunction with the Under the Radar exhibit, the fourth annual San Clemente Women’s Surf Film Festival will take place at SHACC on Jan. 21, from noon to 9 p.m. Presented by the Sandy Feet Initiative, it will also host the Sandy Sip & Shop Arts & Crafts Fair.
An annual celebration of female filmmakers, artists and creators in Southern California, the Women’s Surf Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing films about women surfers that are directed, produced, and written by women.
This year’s offering will focus on three amazing films, including Stoke Chasers, by Jo Anna Edmison; The Physics of Noseriding, by Lauren Hill; and Girls Can’t Surf,”written by Julie-Anne De Ruvo. There will also be a question-and-answer session with various surfers and creators to accompany the screenings.
The Sip & Shop will feature 15 to 20 local women artists. All proceeds support the Sandy Feet Initiative, which is dedicated to supporting and creating a community for the brothers and sisters of children with special needs, disabilities, and chronic illness. It offers research-based programs at the beach, where children learn coping skills and communication techniques through environmental stewardship and ocean therapy.
“Much work remains to be done in simply taking full measure of the injustices, large and small, heaped upon female surfers over the years,” wrote surf historian Matt Warshaw in a recent newsletter.
“The history they made was barely broadcast at the time, or not broadcast at all,” Warshaw continued. “The skill and flair they brought to the game went mostly undocumented. The sport is paying for this still and will be for a long while. The mark left on surfing by women in the 1960s and ’70s in many ways consists of the mark left upon them—or, rather, the erasure.”
The new Under the Radar exhibit is now open at SHACC and is definitely worth stopping by to check it out. There are some classic boards, memorabilia, photos and more on display, all helping to share the obscure and untold history and contributions of women in the waves.